Watching my daughter play is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever laid my eyes on. It’s pure, unadulterated, saturated joy. From the high pitched giggles to the enormous open mouth teethy smile and wide eyes, she lives it. Being with her is like 5 cups of coffee and a chocolate croissant from Paris- it just wakes you up from taste buds to toes.
Which makes me wonder, when do adults harness that kind of joy? I mean, can we? Because, I’ll be honest here, I don’t tend to see that kind of joy in the adults I interact with from day to day. Do you?
I think we need to be a little more conscious of this. We’ve already allowed other emotions to get into the driver’s seat and push joy to the back. Our children are unconsciously joyful, while many adults are unconsciously fearful, frustrated, doubtful, and stressed. We don’t have the liberty of simply letting it come so we must make it happen.
What makes you joyful?
- Spend time with children: They’ve just got it. They know what it means to play. When do adults play? I’ve made a commitment to my children that when I’m with them, I am wholly with them. I’m not on the computer or on the phone. Otherwise, I’m really neither here nor there. Playing with my children fuels them—and fills me up too. It’s about watching the joy in their faces while also engaging in the actions myself. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes I really feel like I’m just pouring myself into them only to have them fill me back up again.
- Behave like a child every once in a while: When I was in Oklahoma waiting for my son to be born for over 2 weeks of time that could not go quick enough, my family was getting a little loopy. We started tapping on Tupperware with spoons and spatulas. And there we were all in a line, my husband, my daughter, and me marching, drumming, humming, singing…and laughing hysterically at the spectacle. “Marchity, marchity, marchity, march…march…march…!” My mother had tears streaming down her face. Too caught up to feel silly, we were completely engaged. I don’t think I’ll forget that moment because it was so joyous. It seems to be the way my daughter feels most of time—ready to break out in singing, dancing and laughter throughout the day. Often she just does it too. What an important development it would be to experience too many moments of joy to count so that they would all meld into one another and we couldn’t remember any one time, don’t you think?
- Remember what you love- and do it: Some of you may know that I love to sing and act. I’ve done a lot of community theater. I just adore it. I love the performance element, the relationships I form, pretending, embodying another person, and getting an audience to react positively. I also learn about myself. It may seem absurd but when I was cast as one of the ugly stepsisters in the musical, Cinderella, it made me become a better person. I was able to discover humor in myself that I had pushed out of site when I thought I needed to act “more adultlike.” Rubbish. Humor is even more important as an adult to keep us from going nuts as parents and professionals.
- Go to sleep: When we are tired, we get grouchy. Nothing is fun or joyous when we’re tired. It doesn’t have to be an hour or two earlier—just make a little switch. My Mom had suggested to me to go to bed 15 minutes earlier, a half hour earlier, and see what a difference it makes. Yes, as usual, she was right. I feel a lot better now and can enjoy myself more the following day.
- Watch the media you consume: We get into a habit of watching this show and that—even when the shows piss us off, makes us feel like garbage or frighten the bajeezus out of us. Why the heck do we do that? I’ve decided not to watch dramas and movies that leave me angry, disgusted or upset. I’d rather do things that bring me up. I know, some people like a good scare—for me, it keeps me up for weeks. Know yourself and do what feels right to you.
- Surround yourself with positive, joyful people: I was talking to a friend bout this just the other day—she is a beautiful, joyful person and one of her friends is a real Debbie Downer. Happy people are always at risk of getting absorbed by others who want to steal their light or just blow it out so that others will feel just as bad as they do. That doesn’t mean to abandon friends when they are in need, but rather, protecting oneself from those who are perpetually unhappy no matter what their life circumstance—and who make no move to try to change what makes them upset. When we surround ourselves with people who challenge us, lift us up, tap into our humor, praise us, and know their own strengths as well, we all feel good. Think about it, if you smile more with certain friends, shouldn’t you spend more time with them? I think so.
- Celebrate: How many of us run through our life like a checklist—checking off big accomplishments like we are going to the grocery store to pick up milk? When we take time to honor our achievements, we take time to feel joy. We allow ourselves to share our success with others, take a satisfying breath, and be wholly present at the finish line of our current goal before moving on to the next item on the agenda. It takes some patience, impulse control, and willingness to honor our efforts and results yet is so worth it. When we provide these moments of celebration throughout our day, weeks, and months, we give ourselves permission to feel joy as a rule rather than as an exception.
What makes YOU joyful? Share it here or on Facebook. Love to hear from you.
Tuesday Question: What Makes You Feel the Wide-Eyed Joy of a Child? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System